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Tue, Feb 21, 2012
The New Paper
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Teen runs own online magazine
by Nur Asyiqin Mohd Salleh

At an age when 15-year-olds are trying to come to grips with homework, Tavi Gevinson has moved into an entirely different area - the intriguing and glamorous world of fashion.

In an industry where your shelf life can be as long as 24 hours, this teenager from Oak Park, Illinois, US, has has been catching the attention of the people who matter in fashion. So what is her claim to fame?

She writes a fashion blog, the, where she has shown her deep knowledge of fashion.

She gets about 35,000 visitors to her blog, on average, every day, and they are not just run-of-the-mill online readers but big names such as Chanel's Karl Lagerfield and the Mulleavy sisters of fashion label Rodarte, to name just a few.

She is a regular at the top fashion shows. Last week, she was at New York Fashion Week, which, incidentally, was her seventh visit there.

The Huffington Post reported that at last Tuesday's Rodarte show, Gevinson joined A-listers like actresses Natalie Portman and Dakota Fanning in the front row, sitting next to tennis superstar Maria Sharapova to take in the runway.

Her creative outfit surely turned heads - a long pink dress, a grey leather jacket and a tiara made of pink rosebuds.

In a mere 31/2 years, her blog - New York Times calls it "precocious" - has made her a darling of the fashion industry.

She has already written for Harper's Bazaar, served as muse for Rodarte's Target line and was profiled in The New Yorker magazine.

She is also the editor-in-chief of her own online magazine, Rookie.

It has more than 20 staff, including designers and photographers.

Some of them are teenagers like her.

In the website, she terms her magazine as "an online publication for teenage girls featuring writing, photography, illustrations, videos, and more from a lovely staff and our readers".

The site features monthly "issues", each revolving around a theme. They post three times a day - after school, after dinner and before bed.

She said there are practical reasons for this schedule: "I'm in school, and I can't be at my computer all day."

Gevinson said when she first broached the concept of Rookie in her blog in April 2010, she received a huge response.

It went online last August, the New York Times reported.

She said she has given a lot of thought to how to approach teenage girls, her peers, in Rookie.

Most high-school sophomores don't travel to Paris, France, to attend the couture shows, but Gevinson insists that her tastes are pretty typical.

"I'm our audience," she told the New York Times.

"Our content respects a kind of intelligence in the readers that right now a lot of writing about teenage girls doesn't."

So how did this middle-class child become so interested in high fashion?

In an interview with last year, Gevinson told interviewer Katie Couric, a well-known American TV journalist: "About three years ago, I started reading a lot of fashion blogs. My best friend's older sister had one and she pointed me in the direction of sites she thought I'd like.

"This was before blogs were being written about in magazines or newspapers as much as they are now. So it was this tight-knit community which really appealed to me."

Being such a high-profile blogger and fashionista, does she do the kind of things girls her age normally do?

Gevinson told that she hangs out with friends, does home theatre, does homework and reads a lot.

How about balancing homework and blogging?

She said: "I get a lot done in school. If I miss class for some kind of travelling, I make up for it.

"It's not easy, but there are people who, you know, go to soccer practice after school or go to rehearsal for a play, and this is the same thing."

Gevinson is influenced by many designers, idols and heroes, but her favourite designer is Rei Kawakubo from Japan.

"Whenever I post about her (Kawakubo) on my blog, there's an interesting response."

The success, or failure, of teenage prodigies depend on how fast they adapt to the changing world. Especially in an industry as brutal as fashion.

Singapore's own fashion bloggers

Singapore's virtual fashionistas have stepped out of the blogosphere to rub shoulders with the rich, the famous and the dapper at high-profile fashion events.

X-Wen, Dinie and Dottie all own fashion blogs with dedicated followers. Now, their online influence has got them passes to red carpet events for some of the most prestigious brands and events in the fashion world:


With a diploma in fashion design from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts under his belt and a degree in fashion communication from the Lasalle College of the Arts on the way, Dinie is one of the pioneers of the local fashion blogging scene.

He says he found his passion for fashion in secondary school when a teacher noticed his natural flair for picking the right clothes.

Spotted at: Special events at the Prada Singapore office, store openings for Michael Kors and Alfred Dunhill.


Wai Xiao Wen, 28, Fash-Eccentric!

Fashion is life for X-Wen, as she is better known to her blog followers.

The associate director of marketing and recruitment at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts Asia here sees fashion as another form of art.

She says she uses herself as a canvas to improve her personal style.

To her, style is a fun way to communicate her personality to the rest of the world. She was invited by Burberry Singapore to blog live at the Burberry store's opening at ION Orchard in November 2009.

Spotted at: The Audi Fashion Festival every year since 2009, press previews for designer brands like Burberry, Dior and Fendi.

"It is an unbelievable feeling to be invited as a fashion blogger to these high-profile events," she says.

"This shows that brands are starting to recognise bloggers as influential opinion leaders in today's blogosphere."

Dorothy Tan, 27, Dfor Dot

Better known as Dottie, she used to be one half of the team behind popular fashion blog Fashion Nation before it was shut down.

Even now, she remains a fixture in the local fashion blogging community.

She studied political science at the National University of Singapore and worked as an industrial relations researcher.

She is now a freelance writer - and fashion, she says, is one of her favourite subjects. Spotted at: Sneak peaks of new collections at srores like H&M, special events for brands like Emilio Pucci.

This article was first published in The New Paper.



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